December 12, 2022
General
8 minutes
Mae Angeline

Resource Tracking Software: A Buyer's Guide + 5 Tools You Can Try for Free

Don't be overwhelmed by the world of resource tracking software. Our guide will start you off in the right direction - and show you a few you can try right now, for free.

No matter how big your organization is, resource tracking software can make a huge difference to the way you and your team think about plans, workload, and time. After all, it's hard to manage what you don't measure.

But with so many options on the market, how do you decide which resource tracking tool to use? 🤔

Every company and context is different, which means (despite some of the bold claims you'll come across out there!) there is no "one size fits all" solution. When choosing resource management software, you need to consider what features and tools you'll need in order to maximize its benefits for your company.

In this buyer's guide, we'll look at the benefits of resource tracking software, and how to choose the software that will make the biggest difference to your company. Finally, we'll go through a few different tools that you can try out right now, for free. Who knows - maybe one of these will be the perfect fit?

What is resource tracking software?

Resource tracking involves monitoring the work completed by individual resources in a particular project. Resource tracking software can help you see how best to allocate resources across multiple projects, by showing the progress of each project and highlighting the capacity of different teams and individuals.

The right resource management tool will help you figure out how well you are using resources, reveal potential avenues for optimization, and help your team keep track of what they need to do. The goal is to improve productivity, clarity, and communication - making sure no one is sat idle and unsure of their assigned work, but equally that no one is overstretched and stressed by an unreasonable workload.

What are the advantages of using resource tracking software?

Oversee current resource allocations

Scheduling resources for future projects often has to be done at the same time as current projects are ongoing - whether these project are on track or not. Keeping sight of it all, while making sure that everyone is optimally utilized and not stretched to breaking point, is a huge challenge. But resource management software can help provide all the information you need to make the right calls.

It surfaces information on an organization's available assets and capabilities in an accessible way, allowing managers to more accurately assess whether the organization can meet future demands. This helps enable fluid asset management to ensure that the organization meets required deliverables.

Reduce avoidable downtime

Tracking resource allocation and utilization can help managers minimize downtime. Although some non-billable time will always be inevitable, a resource tracking tool can help find the optimal balance.

Resource tracking software can also help to prevent potential problems such as burnout or high turnover, by making sure that employees are not pushed too far.

Forecasting future resource availability

A resource management platform can help businesses improve their forecasting by making it easier to see whether (or when) their current resources will be able meet future demand. This can help businesses avoid various challenges that come with using rough estimates or educated guesses when planning projects.

Improves recruitment and training decisions

Being able to forecast capacity can help guide your recruitment strategy - showing you not only who you need to hire, but when you're going to need them by.

Additionally, by using your resource management tool to identify skills gaps, you may be able to see whether it makes more sense to upskill existing employees rather than simply going on the hunt for new team members.

What features should you look for in a resource tracking tool?

Once you've identified that you need a resource management software for your organization, you need to decide what features are most crucial for your context. This will depend on the goals you want to achieve by introducing a new tool, and the pains that trouble your organization.

For example, perhaps your project managers complain that their team always forget to fill out timesheets. In this case, you might be interested in a resource planning tool that has an automatic timesheet entry feature, or other features that remind the team to complete their timesheets.

Here are some key features to look out for that you may see in a quality resource management solution:

Configurability 

The best resource management software is configurable, which means it can be customized to support your organization's unique processes. This is important because it allows the software to be tailored to your specific needs, instead of using generic templates that may not fit your organization's workflow.

The software's configurability allows it to be tailored to the organization's business architecture, with different access levels to information based on users' roles. This reduces the time spent retrieving information crucial for decision-making, as managers get reports that are more relevant to their needs.

API and integrations 

It's ideal if a solution can integrate with your existing processes and tech stack, as it saves time and keeps workflows more streamlined. Nothing is more frustrating than having to use an awkward work-around, or to have to double-up on admin because the data you're inputting into one system doesn't get pulled into another.

Many resource management solutions will offer integrations to work seamlessly with tools you already use (for instance, connecting to a time tracking app or an HR platform), or they may even offer an open API that you can use to build custom integrations. This latter option is particularly flexible, as you won't be constrained by the integrations offered by the tool.

Timesheet feature

The best resource management tools have features that allow you to track time and costs for a project. For example, timesheets let you input data directly into the resource planning dashboards with a few clicks. This supports visibility into the project and lets the manager keep the project costs under control.

Timesheets can help track employee activities and performances, as well as improve work processes. Runn's timesheets, for example, automatically lets employees input data into timesheets, making it easy to track the team's capacity, including time tracking of remote teams.

Real-time dashboard tools

Real-time project reports offer transparency, which reduces the potential for miscommunication and results in higher quality decisions about project schedules. Additionally, the ability to see data in real-time allows resource managers to track the progress of projects and see how resources are being used. This information is essential for making sure projects stay on track and resources are being used efficiently.

How much does resource tracking software cost?

There is quite a spectrum in pricing for resource tracking software, ranging from a few dollars per user per month, to around $50 per user per month. And though it may feel intuitive to expect that you'll "get what you pay for", the most expensive options are not always the best.

For example, some large, well-established ERP solutions are not especially user-friendly - they require more set-up, training, and ongoing support, and they may therefore be priced higher to account for this. By the same token, more modern, SaaS-based tools are frequently designed to be more "self-serve". These are often priced more affordably, even though they are just as functional.

The exact price you will pay for a tool is usually determined by the size of your team. This is because each user added to the tool needs to be supported. Many vendors do offer custom pricing for larger teams though, so don't be intimidated by this.

It can also be more cost-effective to pay for the tool on an annual basis rather than monthly - many vendors offer a discount if you enter a yearly contract rather than a monthly one.

How do you choose which resource tracking tool is right for you?

There are many different resource management solutions available, so having to make a choice can feel overwhelming. However, it's pretty straightforward to whittle down the list of options once you've determined your selection criteria:

  • What's your budget?
  • What features would you consider to be "essentials"?
  • Which features might be "nice-to-haves"?
  • What kind of onboarding support will your team need?
  • Are there any accessibility features you need to consider (i.e. support in different languages)?

Once you've got a firm idea of what you are looking for based on a criteria, you can start testing tools out for yourself. You can contact a salesperson to give you a demo of the tool, and go from there. However, many companies offer a free trial if you would prefer to jump straight into the platform and see it for yourself. Below, we've curated a selection of tools that will let you explore their platform with a free, no-strings attached trial.

5 resource tracking tools you can try today (for free)

1. Runn - resource management solution with robust capacity planning features

Project-based businesses that want to understand their team's capacity - right now, in the future, and in the event of the unexpected - need to give Runn a try. Runn is much more than just a tool for scheduling resources, although it is full of features to make resource planning a breeze - such as drag and drop functions and color-coded resource heatmaps for at-a-glance insights into your plans.

Runn comes with a range of prebuilt project and resource-focused reports to help you understand key resource planning metrics, such as resource utilization, and to perform scenario planning for the future. With features to help you test what/if scenarios - such as "placeholder" resources, and tentative project planning - you can get a clear picture of any resource constraints or bottlenecks before they cause problems.

Runn's users praise the friendly, intuitive interface, and the super responsive, fast-acting support team - which is exactly what you need when you're scheduling resources for mission-critical tasks.

If you're curious, Runn offers a free trial so you can try it for yourself (it's also free forever for small teams). But if you prefer a guided tour, you can book a Runn demo at a time to suit you. A product expert will be happy to show you the ropes and answer any of your questions.

Pricing:

Up to five people: FREE

Pro plan: $10 per person managed, per month

Custom pricing for enterprise clients

2. Timely - AI-generated timesheets for busy people

Timely tries to make timesheets as simple as possible for busy consultants and creatives to just approve and then move on with their day.

Timely automatically tracks time spent in different apps and then uses AI to automatically suggest timesheet entries. You then review the AI-suggested entries before you agree to them. It also synchronizes across platforms, so it captures work done on your phone as well as your laptop.

You can trial Timely for free, and after that there are different pricing tiers depending on how many teams and projects you need to manage.

Pricing:

Starter plan: $10 per user per month

Premium plan: $18 per user per month

Unlimited plan: $26 per user per month

3. ResourceGuru - tracking for creative agencies with equipment management requirements

ResourceGuru is a popular resource management software for agencies and studios. It has many useful features for managing resource availability in a hectic team, including freelancer management tools, a PTO tracker, and insights into individual workload capacity.

Additionally, if your agency's operations rely upon (for instance) the right vehicle or a particular camera being available at a certain time, ResourceGuru's equipment management can help with this. It also includes some features for managing meeting room bookings.

However, though ResourceGuru is priced well, some users say that they find it somewhat limited. Fortunately, it offers a 30 day free trial so you can see if it suits your organization.

Pricing:

"Grasshopper" plan - $2.50 per user per month

"Blackbelt" plan - $4.16 per user per month

"Master"plan - $6.65 per user per month

4. LiquidPlanner - popular resource management tool for the manufacturing sector

LiquidPlanner combines PPM features with resource management functions to create a tool that is particularly suited to manufacturing and engineering environments.

Customers cite the tool's flexibility, saying that it works well for adjusting manufacturing schedules and making priority-based changes to timelines. However, other users have found that LiquidPlanner requires a lot of admin and upkeep in order to work well.

You can test LiquidPlanner out with a free trial.

Pricing:

Essentials plan - $15 per user per month

Professional plan - $25 per user per month

Ultimate - $35 per user per month

5. Teamdeck - resource tracking tool for small teams

For small software development agencies and other professional services firms that sell their time, Teamdeck's features will be a good fit. It allows you to track billable and non-billable time, schedule resources, manage leave, and build your own reports.

Teamdeck also has several features built-in to make for an easy experience for individual contributors - such as a Slack integration, which notifies team members when they are given assignments or if assignments change. Some managers do state that the interface and reporting features are sluggish, though.

You can try Teamdeck for free for seven days.

PRICING:

$3.99 per team member per month, plus $1 per month for each "basic resource"

The bottom line

Buying resource tracking software can be an intimidating process. There's a lot riding on it: you want to make the right choice, not just for you, but for your team and for anyone else who might have to interact with the platform you've picked. In these circumstances, it's easy to fall prey to "decision paralysis". Browsing through so many options, making such a high-stakes decision, how can you be sure you're on the right path?

Looking at lists of pros and cons will only get you so far - our advice is to dive into a few free trials and see what feels like a good fit. After all, there's no real substitute for experience. Get stuck into a few platforms and try them out for yourself.

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